Hello and welcome thanks for reading. I’ve decided to revive my impressions series as this season and anime I have been looking forward to has finally come about. Previously this series was about the manga Naruto Gaiden and it was a lot of fun so due to that I’ve decided to bring the series back. Anyways the topic of this new Impressions Series will be Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans the new entry into the long running metafranchise dating back to 1979. If your a long time fan of Gundam as I am or new to the franchise please read on. If you want my views on some of the best Gundam stories around you can check them out here. So with that little bit of house cleaning out of the way lets move on to Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield” is the tag line for the show and I got to say Iron-Blooded Orphans takes that to heart. Seriously after a slow start to the season this was the show I wanted to have a strong initial outing and I got to say it was. I’ll try not to rave too much but I got to say that was easily the strongest opening to a Gundam series since... perhaps Wing for me. Not since then has a first episode really captured my attention so much (well in a positive way...).
One thing that really struck me was its clear ambition as early Gundam episodes tend to be more focused on characters rather then the universe. In this episode the opposite was true in fact the presumed main character barely even got the most screen time, instead the episode focused on an ensemble cast setting up the story and world of Iron-Blooded Orphans in a style reminiscent of uFotables Fate anime. However despite the massive info dump the series provides I can say with pretty decent confidence this is the anime long suffering Gundam fans have been waiting for; as Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans seems unmistakably adult and designed to appeal to the established crowd, in short there is no Professor Layton/Level 5 garbage here this is Gundam for Gundam fans.
The year Post Disaster 323, Mars fights for freedom and independence from the unified Earth Sphere. However all is not as it appears and various factions move against each other for the right to live... and die as they please.
With that information, the majority of the episode is set on the brutally harsh Maritan landscape and the focus is around the titular Orphans who are members of Chryse Guard Security a private military guarding Chryse the center of the Martian Independence Movement. Of this group the majority are little more then indentured servants to the Officers of the Corps. However a few members of the group pilot “Mobile Weapons” tank like vehicles that look like smaller Mobile Armors from Gundam’s past. One such pilot is Mikazuki Augus CGS’ elite ace who is able to pilot such machines due to spinal implants (why all the men are topless it appears) that seem to enable pilots to communicate directly with their Mobile Weapons, after this revelation the title becomes much more clear. In short the Orphans aren’t just pilots they’re parts of the weapons themselves and as such are as expendable as the Mobile Weapons they pilot. Another key player is Orga Itsuka (above) who although a competent pilot in his own right seems to excel more at another aspect of warfare which we will get to shortly...
Following the introduction of what appears to be our main cast we’re treated to the introduction of the character that will almost certainly fill the “Gundam Hime-Sama” Role in Kudelia Aina Bernstein . A beautiful noble lady of Chryse, a naive Ojou-sama type with glorious ideas of Martian independence and freedom from the Earth Sphere. Deciding to help the cause so dear to her heart she hires the CGS as her bodyguards to tour Mars to better understand its people and situation. While not really original, you can literally go through almost every major Gundam and find this character archetype. However despite this interestingly I’m okay with this particular trope inclusion as really without one it just doesn’t feel like a Gundam. However that still wont stop me taking bets on the odds of her falling in love with our main character.
Following the quick introductions both sides of this unlikely pairing are brought together. Aina the symbol of Martian liberation is shocked to see how little her presence means to the people she ostensibly is trying to “free”. This of course is due to the harsh life the various Orphans have had to live and see grand ideals as little more then play things of the elite, something so far removed from them to be worthless in the grand scheme. This doesn’t deter Aina however as she tries to bond with Mika by in a sense coming down to his level. Mika of course quickly cuts her down (see above) as the entire gesture merely shows how different the two of them are. Aina becomes rightly shocked at how ignorant she is of daily Martian life and leaves to think on the encounter with her hired protectors.
Unfortunately however all is not well... as the CGS’ base was revealed to the Earth’s military force Gjallarhorn by none other Aina’s father who intends to make her a martyr to the cause of Martian independence. It doesn’t matter his daughter as well as hundreds of people will die as again small things such as lives don’t matter, especially next to grand ideals like self-determination and democracy, most notably too when you will hold all power... if its not clear by now a theme of big and small, real and ideal in my mind at least have taken a clear hold with a lot of grey on what is right and wrong still readily apparent.
Moving on we come to a mysterious group within Gjallahorn known as the Inspectors. Very little is known of them at the moment other then their mandate seems to be something greater then the mere squabbles of planetary governance. Interestingly their outfit, attitude and demeanor seems very reminiscent of Treize Khushrenada and his OZ forces from Wing, an elite group within the main enemy forces. My personal theory is this particular force is tasked with keeping down the mysterious power source that caused the “Disaster” the calendar is based on. Which will put them into conflict with the Orphans due to the Gundam’s history as a relic of the war 300 years prior.
In the final act of the episode the Orphans base is attacked by a huge Gjallarhorn force determined to whipe out CGS. However Orga proves to not only be an able warrior but an amazing leader. Assuming command of CGS’ forces in the absence of their cowardly now retreating commanders Orga shows a tactic brilliance not often seen in Gundam, hell I’d argue even Lelouch Lamperouge from Sunrises Code Geass would even be impressed. However despite their valiant effort and innovative tactics the Orphans position is overrun with the appearance of Mobile Suits which ironically look a little bit like Knightmares from Code Geass.
Much like in previous Gundams mobile suits are again the ultimate weapon of war completely outclassing the Orphans mere Mobile Weapons. Despite this they fight on basing their entire strategy on one last ditch effort the Gundam Barbatos. A relic of the war 300 years ago that is so powerful it damages its user while piloting it. However luckily the Orhans have an ace in Mikazuki Augus who takes the Gundam Barbatos into battle where in a show of overwhelming power complete obliterates a Gjallarhorn Mobile Suit.
The episode then comes to an end with Mika in Barbatos standing before an entire army. Walking away you notice two things this episode was totally the prologue with a goal mostly to set up future events. With that in mind it succeeded amazingly. Finally I also believe it was designed to bring lapsed fans back to the fold and after two fan reviled entries into the series I think I can safetly say they succeed. Everything about this series screamed I AM GUNDAM (couldn’t resist) and I for one can not wait until next Sunday to see what happens. Grab a hold of something this is going to be a ride and I hope you all join me again on it. Gundam is BACK! As always please leave your thoughts in the comments, the best part of these things is the community.
“The sustenance of life, is on the battlefield”
Sorry for the Delay. These will normally go up Monday afternoon one day after airing to give people a chance to watch. I was at a Wedding all weekend and didn’t have time to write on Sunday or Monday morning. Also next week will also be on Tuesday due to Canadian Thanksgiving.